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Luhmann and Actor-Network Theory combined: Farm enterprises as self-organizing systems

Noe, Egon and Alrøe, Hugo Fjelsted (2002) Luhmann and Actor-Network Theory combined: Farm enterprises as self-organizing systems. Paper at: XVth ISA World Congress of Sociology, RC51 Sociocybernetics, Brisbane, Australia, 7 – 13th July, 2002. [Unpublished]

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From a rural, sociological point of view no really satisfying social theories suggested have been able to grasp the complexity and special character of a farm entity. The contention of this paper is that a combination of Luhmann’s theory of social systems and the Actor-network Theory of Latour, Callon, and Law offers a fruitful binocular perspective of a farm as a framework for understanding a farm as a self-organizing entity and for studying the social, economic, technical, and biological aspects. The two approaches build on two different ontologies and cannot readily be merged into one theory.
Luhmann’s theory offers an approach to understand a farm as a self-organizing system (operating in meaning) that has to produce and reproduce itself through demarcation from the surrounding world by selection of meaning. The meaning of the system is expressed through the goals, values, and the logic of the farming processes. His theory, however, gets weak on studying the material's heterogeneous character of a farm as a mixture of biology, sociology, technology, and economy.
The Actor-network theory offers an approach to focus on the heterogeneous network of interactions of human and non-human actors such as knowledge, technology, money, farmland, animals, plants etc., and as to how these interactions depend on both the quality of the actors and the network context of interaction, but the theory is weak when it comes to explaining the self-organizing character of a farm enterprise.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:farm, selforganizing, social systems, actor network, systems theory
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Farming Systems
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > V.1 (SYNERGY) Coordination and synergy
Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Deposited By: Alrøe, PhD Hugo Fjelsted
ID Code:204
Deposited On:06 Nov 2002
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:27
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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